Finals Week 2
Last weekend we had three teams competing in semi-finals … Premier Division, Reserve Grade and Under 19 Division 1 playing for the opportunity to advance to Grand Finals. Penno featured prominently on the Saturday card at Henson Park, playing in 3 out of 5 finals that day. Of the three teams, Reserve Grade was successful, while Prems and Under 19 Div 1 were beaten by narrow margins, but survive to fight again in Sunday’s preliminary finals. Although only a fortnight out of winter, last Saturday was more like a balmy summers-day and the unseasonable heat made playing conditions difficult.
Ressies played minor premiers Balmain, having lost to the Tigers two weeks prior in Round 18. The match started perfectly for the Tigers, with their first goal within 90 seconds of the start and then they kicked a second, several minutes later. Penno kicked their first goal after 7 min and by half-way through the first quarter, Balmain had kicked 3 goals to 1. The Demons then kicked 5 unanswered goals to take a lead of 27 pts, which Balmain reduced to 21 pts at half time. In the 3rd term, Balmain veteran Troy Luff received two favourable free kicks within easy range of goal and gave the Tigers some hope of a revival, however, goals by Brant “Smakco” Jack, playing in his 200thgame, and 300 game veteran Jason Clarke, almost unrecognisable in a sleeveless jumper (No 24), kept Penno ahead by 17 pts at the final change. Two early goals by the Tigers in the 4th quarter got the margin back to a manageable 5 pts, however, the Demons pressure and ill-discipline by the Balmain defenders allowed Penno 3 easy goals, 2 from 50 metre penalties and one when Barnsy received a second kick at goal when he was felled late after the act of scoring. Penno’s 6 goals to 2 in the final term resulted in a 41 pt victory and a place in the Grand Final. Sam Zikman and Pete Barnes each kicked 4 goals. Brant Jack was able to celebrate his 200th game milestone with a victory … congratulations Smakco!
Prems took on the power-house East Coast Eagles and we weren’t really given much of a chance at victory. ECE were minor premiers, having lost only one match and having monstered most teams, including Penno, already this season. After ECE made the first clearance with impressive speed and efficiency, it seemed that our worst fears, a blow-out, might be realised. However, astute coaching and a ferocious desire to do well under-pinned a great performance by the Dees, albeit they just fell short of victory in the end. There seemed to be something special in the air when our physio’s table was crushed in a sideline incident and when an East Coast shot at goal went out of bounds on the full and popped neatly into a garbage bin like a hole in one! Such quirky omens seemed to inspire our boys who played above themselves and we matched or excelled the Eagles for most of the match. However, in the end, it was a small number of fatal turnovers that lead to East Coast goals that cost our boys an early ticket to the Grand Final; the final margin an even 2 goals. This was an impressive effort against a formidable side and it gives us high hopes for today’s preliminary final against St George, before, with skill and luck, we get another shot at East Coast in the Grand Final.
Of the 3 sides competing today, the Under 19 Div 1 team was probably the most favoured to win straight through to the Grand Final. However, this turned out not to be the case. In an arm-wrestle where there was never much of a difference in scores, UNSW/ES Bulldogs had a slightly better time of it in the second half and held on for a 7 pt win. This means that Penno will need to get over North Shore in next week’s preliminary final, if they are to make the Grand Final for a re-match against the Bulldogs. Interestingly, in terms of recent form, Norths and UNSW have won their past 5 matches straight, whereas Penno is 2 wins, 3 losses. Clearly, our boys will need to lift if they are to progress in the finals series.
So, this week, we have two teams competing in preliminary finals on Saturday at Henson Park. Prems and Under 19 Div 1 take on St George Dragons and North Shore Bombers. As you would expect of finals, each of these matches will be hotly contested and our boys will need to play at their best if they are to win through to next week’s Grand Finals. So come on out to Henson Park to cheer the boys on.
Dates for the diary: Thursday 1 October 2015 is Vote Count Night to be held at the MKO club rooms; and Presentation Night is on Friday 9 October 2015 at the Epping Club.
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